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Curriculum

An interdisciplinary program blending immersive practical experiences within a strong theoretical framework. 
 

As a student in The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Art Therapy program at SVA you’ll experience a program with an interdisciplinary approach, integrating the experiential components of art therapy practice within a comprehensive framework of academic theory and clinical application. You’ll learn to adapt the creative process to the specific therapeutic needs of the individual, population and setting, with a consideration of how socio-political and cultural issues impact treatment. SVA believes in active engagement with the community utilizing the diverse, multi-dimensional, artistic, and innovative atmosphere of NYC and beyond to enhance training.

As a degree candidate you’ll need to complete 60 credits, including all required courses, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0. You’ll also need to complete a 2 year residency requirement. In exceptional instances, you may be allowed to transfer up to 15 credits from other accredited graduate programs. Decisions concerning transfer of credit and course exemptions are made by the committee on graduate admissions.

You’ll be trained in the psychodynamic roots of the art therapy profession along with contemporary theories of human development, creativity, and related fields. You’ll analyze changes in physical, cognitive, artistic and social-emotional development across the lifespan. Your courses will work in tandem with two years of internship and special projects in clinical, academic, medical and community settings. First year coursework will involve training in fundamental theories, methods and evidence-based art therapy research. This includes an in-depth academic and experiential exploration of the therapeutic use of art materials with specific populations. Your second year will focus on specialization, professional development and practical application. You’ll develop a clinically oriented thesis, which includes designing and conducting research that follows ethical guidelines. In addition, you’ll choose from two specialization tracks: Addictionology or Trauma.

Tracks: Addictionology and Trauma

In your second year of study, you’ll choose between two areas of specialization. Track selection informs the second year internship placement and is the focus of thesis work.

The Addictionology track explores neurobiology and its role in substance use and other addictive behaviors, the influence of attachment and trauma on capacities for self-regulation, and consequent reliance on chemical assistance and non-drug dependencies. If you choose this track, you’ll gain an understanding of the role of art therapy in promoting enhanced capacities for integration and communication among neural systems and networks, allowing for optimal self-regulation and overall functioning.

The Trauma track explores the nature and effects of interactions between the environment and physiology of the individual. The impacts of profound, event-related or shock trauma, as well as developmental, attachment-based, and strain trauma is examined throughout the life cycle. If you choose this track you’ll gain an understanding of  the role of art therapy in promoting a sense of efficacy and mastery that offsets the learned helplessness acquired during traumatic experience, and reintroducing clients to experiences of pleasure and play in a safe and manageable way

Internships

The internship, a core component of SVA student training, is integrated into all academic coursework from your first semester of study, so that theory is consistently connected to practice. You’ll complete an intensive 960 hours of on-site clinical work at two separate and diverse year long internships where you’ll gain in-depth art therapy experience and professional training under the supervision of a licensed art therapist.

You’ll benefit from our affiliations with a wide range of prominent institutions and non-traditional sites in and around NYC ensuring that you are exposed to innovative advancements and current trends in art therapy, the fine art world and related fields. Through on-going individual consultation with a full-time internship coordinator, you’ll obtain an internship that corresponds to your experience and SVA training standards while developing skills specific to seeking employment as an art therapist. Second year internships are based on track selection and are the focus of thesis work so that didactic material is reinforced by work in the field. You’ll be expected to take an active role on-site and in supervision, developing leadership, advocacy and critical thinking skills. A fundamental part of internship training is considering the impact of socio-political issues, culture and power structures on treatment, as well as upholding the standards and ethical guidelines of the American Art Therapy Association, Art Therapy Credentials Board, and the New York State Education Department Office of Professions.

Degree Requirements

• Successful completion of 60 credits, including all required courses and the thesis project. Documentation of all thesis projects must be on file in the Art Therapy Department to be to be eligible for degree conferral. 

• A matriculation of two academic years. Students must complete their degree within four years, unless given an official extension by the provost. 

• Students are required to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B)
in order to remain in good academic standing.

First-Year Requirements

Requirement A
First-year students must take all of the following courses:

ATG-5030  Theoretical Foundations of Art Therapy
ATG-5100  Child Art Development
ATG-5110  Adolescent Art Development
ATG-5130  Methods and Materials in Art Therapy
ATG-5150  Internship/Supervision in the Studio I
ATG-5155  Internship/Supervision in the Studio II
ATG-5180  Group Therapy and Practice
ATG-5240  Adult Art Development
ATG-5460  Psychiatric Populations and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
ATG-5550  Interviewing and Counseling Skills 

Requirement B
First-year students must take one of the following courses each semester:

ATG-5614  Art Therapy, Displaced Youth and Human Rights
ATG-5621  Group Psychotherapy for Individuals with Substance Abuse Disorders
ATG-5629  Art Therapy and Accessibility: Designing Adaptations for Individuals with Disabilities
ATG-5637  Theory and Practice Across the Gender Spectrum
ATG-6522  International Art Therapy Exchange Program
ATG-6811  Art Therapy Studio I: Resourcefulness and Creativity
ATG-6812  Art Therapy Studio II: Transforming Space

Second-Year Requirements

Requirement A
Second-year students are required to take all of the following courses:

ATG-6070 Physiologies of Addiction and Trauma
ATG-6120  Thesis Project I
ATG-6125  Thesis Project II
ATG-6170  Internship/Supervision in the Studio III
ATG-6175  Internship/Supervision in the Studio IV
ATG-6210  Art Assessment and Diagnosis
ATG-6270  Cultural and Social Issues in Art Therapy
ATG-6490  Family Art Therapy
ATG-6520  Community Access Through the Arts

Second-year addictionology specialists must also take ATG-6060, Clinical Topics in Addictionology; second-year trauma specialists must also take ATG-6140, Clinical Topics in Trauma. 

Requirement B
Second-year students must take one of the following courses each semester:

ATG-5614  Art Therapy, Displaced Youth and Human Rights
ATG-5621  Group Psychotherapy for Individuals w/ Substance Abuse Disorders
ATG-5629  Art Therapy & Accessibility: Designing Adaptations for Individuals w/ Disabilities
ATG-5637  Theory and Practice Across the Gender Spectrum
ATG-6811  Art Therapy Studio I: Resourcefulness and Creativity
ATG-6812  Art Therapy Studio II: Transforming Space
ATG-6857  Counseling Team I
ATG-6858  Counseling Team II

MPS Art Therapy - General Requirements

ATG-5030
Theoretical Foundations of Art Therapy
Fall semester: 3 credits
The history of the theoretical aspects of art therapy will be explored. Analytic, behavioral, cognitive, interpersonal and humanistic approaches, important events, practitioners and the development of art therapy as a distinct therapeutic practice will be reviewed through readings, didactic and experiential sessions. Ethical and legal issues of art therapy practice, including certification, values, malpractice, confidentiality and an overview of psychotherapy theories relevant to art therapy will also be included in discussions and examined through case presentations and lectures. 

ATG-5100
Child Art Development
Fall semester: 3 credits
The behavior of children—from birth through pre-adolescence—is the focus of this course. Through case presentations, readings and discussion, we will examine the physical, emotional and intellectual growth of children, and explore psychological and physiological factors, as well as cultural and environmental influences that impact learning, creativity and personality development. Psychopathology and art therapy treatment approaches are included. 

ATG-5110
Adolescent Art Development
Spring semester: 3 credits
It is essential for art therapists to have an understanding of the individuals with whom they work. This course provides a theoretical framework from which adolescence will be examined in such areas as developmental processes in art expression, cognition, intra-psychic dynamics, environmental influences and the interrelationships among them. The role and impact of family, society, culture and trauma have upon adolescent development and functioning will be emphasized. Establishing a safe arena and therapeutic alliance in order to effectively implement art therapy as assessment, intervention and ongoing treatment will be addressed. 

ATG-5130
Methods and Materials in Art Therapy
Fall semester: 3 credits
This course will enable students to examine the use of paints, inks, organic art processes, sculpture materials and other traditional and nontraditional art media and their uses with specific client populations. Salient features of particular materials and expressive dimensions will be discussed, including relevant technology. Students will explore the impact of art processes and materials through ongoing participation in personal art-making. By strengthening their connection to the creative process, students will gain an understanding of personal symbolic language, and arts-based learning allowing for the opportunity to integrate intellectual, emotional, artistic and interpersonal knowledge. 

ATG-5150 / ATG-5155
Internship/Supervision in the Studio I and II
Two semesters: 3 credits per semester
The MPS Art Therapy Department has developed numerous affiliations with a wide variety of institutions in and around New York City. Working with the field placement coordinator, each student will be placed in a supervised internship that corresponds with his or her area of specialization. Students are required to spend 16 hours per week at an internship site each semester. Small-group supervision will also be provided by SVA faculty members through a unique studio-based component of this course. This will give students a regular opportunity to reflect on their work with clients and to further their own artistic development as they explore the challenges of artist-as-therapist. Students will explore professional identity, professional ethics and the ethical practice of art therapy and the proper application of ethical and legal principles of art therapy practice, and gain familiarity with the ethical standards of the American Art Therapy Association and Art Therapy Credentials Board as well as other related fields. 

ATG-5180
Group Therapy and Practice
Spring semester: 2 credits
This course will assist in the development of clinical skills through an exploration of techniques and practices. Topics will include standards and methods of documentation, treatment planning, treatment team reports (oral and written) and case presentation. Emphasis will be placed on theoretical and experiential understanding of group art therapy techniques—group dynamics and process, counseling methods, leadership styles and approaches, member roles and behaviors, selection criteria, short- and long-term group process, therapeutic factors and stages of group development. Contemporary theorists will also be critically surveyed. In addition, research methodologies and design will be explored for thesis/special project preparation. 

ATG-5240
Adult Art Development
Spring semester: 3 credits
This course will examine the physical and emotional development of adults and explore the psychological and physiological factors involved. Specific emphasis will be placed on the variations of the aging process and how these manifest in behavior and creative expression. Normal development, psychopathology, clinical interventions and art therapy treatment approaches will be included. 

ATG-5460
Psychiatric Populations and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
Spring semester: 3 credits
Psychopathology, as determined by the DSM multi-axial system, will be examined in depth. Case material will be presented for each diagnostic category and the clinical implications for the art therapist will be explored. Treatment approaches will be considered, as will indicators of functional and organic disorders in behavior and artwork of clients. Types of psychopharmacological medications will also be covered. 

ATG-5550
Interviewing and Counseling Skills
Fall semester: 2 credits
Students will be introduced to assessment and evaluation techniques for the treatment of traumatized populations, chemically dependent clients and their families. Intake strategies for both short- and long-term settings, and developing counseling skills will be the primary focus. We will examine psychological theories, systems perspective, application to case material and critical thinking with regard to similarities and differences between art therapy and counseling interventions. Contemporary theories for treatment of substance abuse will be included, and we will address areas such as behavioral, cognitive, educational, creative arts and experiential work. 

ATG-5614
Art Therapy, Displaced Youth and Human Rights
Fall semester: 1 credit
Systems of injustice can lead to violations of basic human rights. This course will explore social and mental health systems in which poverty, marginalization, exploitation, racism, and other forms of stigma and basic human rights violations occur. Through discussion, case presentation and interactive participation, students will learn about the physical, psychological and emotional consequences that many youth in our country face on a daily basis. Migrant and refugee children, youth in foster care and human trafficking will be main topic areas for review. The role of art therapy, collaboration between staff and ethical concerns will be addressed. Trauma informed approaches in art therapy that promote basic human rights, issues of social justice and support post-traumatic growth will be presented. 

ATG-5621
Group Psychotherapy for Individuals with Substance Abuse Disorders
Spring semester: 1 credit
This course will provide an overview of treatment for individuals with substance use disorders (SUD) in a group setting. A brief history of group therapy, different models of group therapy, the stages of group, and preparation for the client and the group leader will be discussed. Transference and countertransference will be examined in the context of mock group presentations. The use of art therapy and discussion of how the use of art could contribute to the group process with individuals with SUD. 

ATG-5629
Art Therapy and Accessibility: Designing Adaptations for Individuals with Disabilities
Spring semester: 1 credit
This course provides students with the skills and understanding to adapt art materials and techniques for children, adults and seniors with disabilities. Readings and case studies will cover art therapy approaches for a range of physical and cognitive impairments. Emphasis will be placed on designing custom adaptations using widely available, low-cost materials such as single- and tri-wall cardboard. 

ATG-5637
Theory and Practice Across the Gender Spectrum
Fall semester: 1 credit
This course is structured around three areas to develop an expertise for clinical practice in relation to gender: theory, research and therapeutic clinical skills. We will first examine the most relevant and current theories related to gender across the spectrum including cisgender, transgender, nonbinary, gender fluid and agender. Next the course will survey the quantitative and qualitative research related to treatment issues which are most prevalent in connection to gender minorities and best practices. Finally, we will discuss various clinical practice orientations and interventions which provide the soundest exploration of gender in treatment. Through case examples we will explore how gender intersects with various clinical presentations such as trauma, sexual dysfunction, depression, anxiety, social phobia and autism. Readings will include WPATH’s Standards of Care, and authors Saketopoulou, Ehrensaft, Keo-Meier, Singh, Dickey, Langer, Violeta and Serano. 

ATG-6060
Clinical Topics in Addictionology
Spring semester: 3 credits
The phenomenology of substance abuse, utilizing a bio-psychological model, will be examined. A review of the history and evolution of current modes of treatment, in addition to the rationale for the disease concept of alcoholism, will be offered. 

ATG-6070
Physiologies of Addiction and Trauma
Fall semester: 3 credits
Contemporary neurochemical theories of addictions and the effects that sudden and sustained trauma can have on brain chemistry will be examined in this course. We will consider the ways in which trauma biochemically alters how we process experiences, store memories and respond to external stimuli. Clinical approaches to assessing and addressing neurological results of trauma will be included, with consideration given to current neurobiochemical research and the implications for art therapy treatment. Neuroanatomy and physiology will be examined as well as the use of psychotropic medication for treatment of substance abuse. Theories regarding the genetic etiology of substance abuse will be reviewed. 

ATG-6120
Thesis Project I and II
Two semesters: 3 credits per semester
In these courses, students will be supervised by art therapy faculty members in the development and production of a thesis topic. Each project must be clinical in scope, present an original point of view and include supporting documentation of its concepts and findings. In addition, students may opt to explore grant-writing opportunities or other extensive in-depth projects. Structured methods and formats such as quantitative and qualitative research, formal case studies and arts-based research will be discussed. Students are required to present their thesis projects to peers and faculty. The department chair will oversee all projects. 

ATG-6140
Clinical Topics in Trauma
Spring semester: 3 credits
This course will explore psychological trauma and its broad range of causes and manifestations. Long-term negative consequences that result from single, prolonged and/or repeated traumatic experiences will be considered, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Situational trauma, such as those caused by living in an unstable or dangerous environment, will also be addressed. We will discuss various assessment methods and treatment approaches, with an emphasis on art therapy. 

ATG-6170 / ATG-6175
Internship/Supervision in the Studio III and IV
Two semesters: 3 credits per semester
The MPS Art Therapy Department has developed numerous affiliations with a wide variety of institutions in and around New York City. Working with the field placement coordinator, each student will be placed in a supervised internship that corresponds with his or her area of specialization. Students are required to spend 16 hours per week at an internship site each semester. Small-group supervision will also be provided by SVA faculty members through a unique studio-based component of this course. This will give students a regular opportunity to reflect on their work with clients and to further their own artistic development as they explore the challenges of artist-as-therapist. Students will explore professional identity, professional ethics and the ethical practice of art therapy and the proper application of ethical and legal principles of art therapy practice, and gain familiarity with the ethical standards of the American Art Therapy Association and Art Therapy Credentials Board as well as other related fields. 

ATG-6210
Art Assessment and Diagnosis
Fall semester: 3 credits
Art assessment and diagnostic materials will be explored through experiential sessions, didactic learning and casework. The fundamentals of art therapy assessment, statistical concepts (including reliability and validity) and familiarity with a variety of art therapy instruments and procedures used in appraisal and evaluation will be examined. Topics include: administration and documentation of art therapy assessment, formulation of treatment goals, basic concepts of testing and assessment, psychological and biopsychosocial assessment, statistical concepts including reliability and validity. Projective tests such as the Diagnostic Drawing Series (DDS), Levick Emotional and Cognitive Art Therapy Assessment (LECATA), Mandala Assessment Research Instrument (MARI), Silver Drawing Test of Cognition and Emotion, Ulman Personality Assessment Procedure (UPAP) and other psychometric instruments will be explored. 

ATG-6270
Cultural and Social Issues in Art Therapy
Fall semester: 2 credits
The effect of ethnicity and culture in the therapeutic process will be examined in this course through case material, slide illustrations, didactic and experiential sessions. We will explore cultural determinants of problems encountered in the field of art therapy, and provide a foundation in cultural diversity theory and competency models that are applied to an understanding of artistic language, symbolism and meaning in artwork and art-making. Students will investigate the role of the art therapist in social justice, advocacy and conflict resolution, including theories of counseling and development of competencies essential for a responsive therapist with regard to age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socio-economic status, developmental disability and education, as well as family, religious and spiritual values. Cultural self-awareness through self-assessment and strategies for working with diverse communities with regard to attitudes, beliefs and competent practice will be examined. 

ATG-6490
Family Art Therapy
Spring semester: 3 credits
Systems theory will provide the theoretical foundation for this course; family art therapy and strategic learning will be explored and experienced. To conceptualize the emotional phenomena within the family of origin offers practitioners the skills to maneuver in complex waters. When addiction, mental illness, physical disabilities and the effects of trauma exist within the system, every member is impacted with a life altering experience. To restore a functional adjustment and balance is the goal of the family art therapist. Research, genograms, case studies and literature will be part of the learning experience. 

ATG-6520
Community Access Through the Arts
Spring semester: 2 credits
The professional role as an art therapist, with regard to function and relationship with other mental health providers, knowledge of professional organizations, credentialing and licensure will be covered. Students will learn how to create an in-service presentation, which will include didactic materials and client work, to appeal to various audiences. Alternatives to traditional methods of psychotherapeutic treatment will also be explored. Field visits to the Foundation Center, Materials for the Arts and museums will be included for observation and presentation purposes. Art therapy resources, grant writing, ethical and legal issues and the development of art therapy career counseling will be covered, plus skills considered essential in enabling individuals and organizations to positively affect career development and aptitude. 

ATG-6811
Art Therapy Studio I: Resourcefulness and Creativity
Fall semester: 1 credit
Typically, there are limited funds and access to materials at the sites where art therapists work. How do we explore available materials in inspirational ways as well as fostering the creative process? What sparks a client’s artistic expression and how do we create opportunity for self-reflection? In this course we will take a pragmatic approach to exploring basic materials and how they are used in various sites, and then construct directives based on population and developmental level.

ATG-6812
Art Therapy Studio II: Transforming Space
Spring semester: 1 credit
This course will offer a new perspective on art therapy methods through a focus on long-term projects and nontraditional materials. Students will undertake several unique media interventions, including experimentation with scale and embellishing, and use of regressive and natural materials. These processes will be explored as vehicles for change and reparation while students also examine their own artistic development and creative process. 

ATG-6857
Counseling Team I and II
Two semesters: 1 credit per semester
Select second-year students comprise a team that provides art therapy services to undergraduate and graduate SVA students from other programs. Students are chosen for the team through an application and interview process at the beginning of the second year. The team of students augments their clinical skills by independently facilitating weekly one-on-one and group sessions, and meets weekly for group supervision. 

Summer Program in Art Therapy 

ATG-6522
International Art Therapy Exchange Program
Summer semester: 2 credits
In this immersive intercultural exchange, SVA students will train for three weeks in collaboration with students from an international art therapy graduate program. The cross-cultural education is enriched through the inclusion of international students at SVA and at a graduate program in an international location. The program is based on broadening the experiences of both student groups with training in art therapy theory, practice and culture, by exploring the effects that power, privilege and identity have on the therapeutic process. Students will consider culture on an international level, examining how social constructs, biases, assumptions and beliefs affect treatment, diagnosis and art-making. The international exchange is structured to include dialogue between American and international art therapists. Understanding art therapy services within the context of social action, intercultural dialogue and research is the core of this exchange program, as students engage in work through special projects with diverse groups.

 

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